How To Help A Mentally Ill Homeless Family Member?

Mental illness and homelessness are found often according to researchers; and without long terms solutions, those suffering from both these conditions will remain dependent on others to take care of them. Through this article we will consider the options that one may have when they are trying to help a family member who is suffering from both a mental illness and homelessness. We will also explore whether someone faced with a dual challenge of this nature can be supported through council housing and benefits claims.

How To Help A Mentally Ill Homeless Family Member?

In order to help a family member suffering from mental illness and homelessness, you can initially try to provide them shelter and food on an urgent basis. If they take any prescribed medication, you should speak to their GP as soon as possible to make sure that they have a sufficient supply of medicines.

If your family member has just been released from the hospital after treatment for a mental health condition, the council may be able to provide shelter on an immediate basis if they are at risk of having nowhere to live. 

If they are in need of urgent care due to their mental health condition, you can call the NHS at 111 or 999 for an emergency. For long-term care, you can consult the mental health service at the NHS by enrolling on therapy and counselling.

If you are unable to provide them shelter, you can contact your local council office to seek information regarding a shelter or hostel where they can be accommodated. Otherwise, you can e organisations such as Crisis or Shelter who provide housing and care to homeless individuals.

However, since research suggests that one out of 5 mental health patients accredit their housing problems to their condition, you may need to guide your family member toward finding stable housing conditions. While they may get a council house due to their medical condition and claim benefits to pay for their living costs, they will need long-term support.

Therefore, you can discuss the following housing options to see which one suits better to their needs:

  • supported housing where housing care and support are provided
  • living with a Shred Lives carer and their family 
  • therapeutic communities where those suffering from mental health conditions can live for months at a time

With the passage of time you may consider the following suggestions to help your family member challenged with mental health concerns:

  • avail a rent deposit, bond or guarantee scheme through your local council to pay your deposit and rent for their council home 
  • apply for a discretionary housing payment to pay for housing costs
  • use the Help To Rent database through the charity Crisis that helps single individuals or those at the risk of being homeless with funding for rental payments
  • get an interest-free loan to pay for housing costs especially deposit and rent if they can claim benefits

Can You Get A Council House If You Are Mentally Ill Or Homeless?

Yes, you can get a council house if you are mentally ill or homeless. As a matter of fact, these are the top two criteria for assigning a high priority to a council housing application. During the short course of this application, the council can also arrange emergency accommodation for applicants faced with the dual challenge of homelessness and mental health concerns.

Additionally, the council can also provide financial support to pay the initial rental deposit.

If a council housing applicant faced with depression is assessed with the need to have more support than they currently have, their GP or the council’s occupational therapist may advise the following alternate living arrangements through the council or charitable schemes:

  • Supported accommodations such as group flats or housing with self-contained accommodation and communal areas
  • Sheltered housing with medical and communal support
  • Hostels for short-term accommodation; usually until an applicant is allocated a council house 

Can You Get Benefits If You Are Mentally Ill Or Homeless?

Yes, you can qualify for certain benefits due to your homelessness and mental health concerns. For instance, if someone is faced with a physical or mental illness, disability, or terminal illness that increases the requirement of being supervised or being taken care of by someone else, they can claim Attendance Allowance. However, this applies to those individuals who have surpassed the state pension age and require supervision due to their health conditions. 

Otherwise, they can claim Personal Independence Payments which are state benefits that intend to cover the additional costs of disability or mental illnesses for claimants. 

If someone is unable to work due to a mental health condition or disability (termed as “limited capability for work”), they may also claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You can claim ESA and PIP at the same time; should you qualify to meet the conditions for both the benefits. 

In certain cases, disabled adults will be able to claim Universal Credit due to their limited capability for work; while sometimes their parents can claim this benefit if they are the ones taking care of a disabled adult. 

You can check your (or someone else’s) eligibility to claim benefits by adding some basic information to an online benefits calculator.


There are some exhaustive tips in this blog post to help a family member challenged with the struggle of mental health concerns and homelessness. In addition to any financial or emotional support that you may provide to them, you must consider helping them find a safe and comfortable place to live (ideally through your local council or otherwise a charity such as Shelter or Crisis); as well as medical attention to help with their mental health concerns. 

FAQs: How To Help A Mentally Ill Homeless Family Member?

Where can my mentally ill son live in the UK?

You may be able to take your son to a “crisis house” in an urgent situation but this is only a short-term solution. In the case of mental health concerns, the patient’s doctor will be able to advise what living conditions are best for them.

Can Social Services help with housing in the UK?

Yes, the Social Services department of your local council office can help with housing in the UK. Interested applicants should get in touch with them to learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process.

Can your house affect your mental health?

Yes, research has proven that poor living conditions can cause depression and stress while healthy living conditions release stress and anxiety. Similarly, unaffordable rental payments or mortgages, overcrowded conditions and unsafe neighbourhoods can affect your mental health.

What are the benefits of a Disability Living Allowance?

A Disability Living Allowance is a tax-free state benefit that provides financial support to individuals with a disability to meet the additional costs for mobility and care.

Can you be evicted if you have mental health issues?

No, you cannot be evicted if you have mental health issues and your health concern is categorised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 as this will be considered direct discrimination.


Getting help from social services if you’re homeless – Citizens Advice

Priority need you have a health condition or disability – Shelter England

Housing and mental health

Mental health services – NHS

Services that can help you – Missing People

A Guide to Benefits for Disabled Adults – Working Families